Totally cliché I know but the first thing you have to do when you arrive in New York is play “Empire State of Mind” by Jay Z and Alicia Keys and dance crazily around your hotel room while singing as loud as you can – YOU’RE IN NEW YORK BABY, enjoy it – we did!
The million-dollar question on everyone’s lips now that we are all starting to think about traveling again is when booking a trip to New York how long should you stay for?
Well, let me just say New York City is energizing, it’s exciting and it’s nothing short of spectacular. The glitz the glam, and the pizzazz sucks you right in and leaves you always wanting to go back for more and more.
I get goosebumps talking about New York, I love it, it really is the city that never sleeps and it will never ever disappoint! If it’s your first time or your fiftieth time in New York there are just so many things to see and do – and there all good!
So here’s my ultimate guide of what you need to see in New York City baby to make sure your stay is nothing less than spectacular… oh and to answer that question, I would stay as long as you can, actually however long you stay it will never belong enough…so aim for at least seven days to fit all of the below in!
Statue of Liberty – Climb into the Crown
Iconic New York, this brazen beauty was gifted to New York from France back in 1886 to symbolise friendship and freedom – so very kind! For me, there is only one way to truly experience and appreciate one of New York’s top tourist attractions and that is by getting inside her head – literally.
You can book a “Crown Reserve” ticket through Statue Cruises which gives you access to climb up 354 stairs from the bottom of the pedestal all the way to the top of the Statue of Liberty’s crown. I didn’t say it was going to be easy, but the view from the top is well worth it.
You will need to pre-book this experience as a very limited number of tickets are sold per day.
Central Park & Loeb Boathouse Row Boats
Central Park, is not only one of the most well-known attractions in New York but as a tourist, it is the perfect place to sit back soak up the true New York atmosphere while mingling with real New Yorkers – it’s like stepping into a fairy-tale.
There are so many activities you can do in Central Park like having a picnic in the park, renting a bike, taking a tour or even visiting the Central Park Zoo.
But a favourite of mine is to row a boat on Central Park Lake. Ok if the truth be told I didn’t row at all Aron did all of the hard work but someones got to sit back and enjoy it – right. You get to see the park from a totally new perspective and without getting to lovey-dovey the setting is a little romantic – mwah!
The rowboats are very reasonably priced to hire and hold a maximum of four people. Be sure to stop in at the Boathouse Express Café or Restaurant afterward – it’s delicious!
The Rink at Rockefeller Centre – Ice Skating
Try standing in ice skates for the first time clinging onto the side rail with wobbly ankles and laughing historically while a 5-year-old child performs pirouettes and totally puts you to shame. Could New York get any better, seriously this is what makes ice skating at the Rockefeller so much fun! You will find a variety of talent levels and ages skating delicately over the ice or landing fair and square on their behind!
Ice Skating at the Rockefeller Centre has been a New York tradition since the 1930s and although the price during the peak season may seem a little on the high side it isn’t really that bad considering you are ice skating at the Rockefeller Centre in New York City!
You can pre-book your tickets if you make a “VIP Skate Reservation” or a “First Skate Package”, alternatively you purchase a “General Admissions” ticket which is sold on a first in best-dressed basis – this is what we did and didn’t have to wait long at all.
Location: Rockefeller Centre, Fifth Avenue (between 49th and 50th Streets)
Season: Mid October to April
Opening Hours: 8.30 am-midnight
Price Range: $$
Ready to experience Ice Skating at The Rink? Visit The Rink at Rockefeller
Tiffany & Co. Fifth Avenue
That’s Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue darling, said with snobbish tone.
Yes, you can buy Tiffany’s all over the world but for me owning a piece of Tiffany’s glam from Tiffany’s very own flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York just made my purchase that little bit more spectacular.
Even if you don’t want to buy there is no harm in browsing right! There are six amazing levels of sparkly jewels that come in all colours, blue, pink, green, yellow- oh that yellow diamond it was perfect! The diamonds are both affordable and beyond extravagant but just seeing them in a store that opened all the way back in 1837 was certainly impressive.
Location: 727 Fifth Avenue, New York
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 am to 7 pm & 12 pm to 6 pm on Sundays
Price Range: $$ – $$$$$
Ready to experience Tiffany’s Glam? Visit Tiffany & Co. Fifth Avenue
The Charging Bull
The gigantic bronze bull is a popular stop for any New York tourist, I think so many people (including myself) see the bull and think oh we must get a pic with that without actually knowing anything about it.
So here’s what you need to know, the Charging Bull was illegally dropped off outside the New York City Stock Exchange on Wall Street in 1989 by Arturo Di Modica, a Sicilian artist, who gave the statue to New York as a gift to celebrate America’s “can-do” attitude. The bull was removed that day and was then moved to the Bowling Green a week later which is where you can visit it today.
Empire State Building
You probably know the Empire State Building from King Kong hanging off it or from the classic movie – Sleepless in Seattle. This building is another great place to get extraordinary views of New York City.
There is an observation deck on the 86th floor, but why stop there, keep going all the way to the very top where you can see the city from a whopping 102 floors high!
It will cost a little more to get to the 102nd floor but this is certainly worth it. We also paid for the express ticket to skip the lines, ironically the day we went there was no line! I do think it is worth buying as we could see where the lines would go and on a busy day the express ticket will be your best friend!
Top of the Rock
Seeing 360 degrees of uninterrupted views of New York City from 70 stories high is amazing but it is even more spectacular when you see how the skyline changes from day to night.
I totally recommend upgrading your ticket so you can take the elevator to the Top of the Rock twice in one day, this way you can experience one of the most amazing views during the day and by the twinkling New York City lights after dark from the open-air deck!
If you’re in a hurry, then grab a VIP pass which will get you straight in! No lining up just straight to the top!
Ps. There is always time for a souvenir photo, you can recreate the famous pic “lunch atop a skyscraper”. This iconic photo captures workers eating lunch on a steel beam during the construction of the building back in 1932.
Popular for so many reasons but mainly because of its unique triangular shape. The flatiron building has been drawing crowds since 1902. For me, it was the perfect spot to grab an insta pic and then walk to Madison Square Park (2 mins away) for one of my all-time favorite burgers at Shake Shack!
The American Museum of Natural History
New York City has so many good museums, which makes it very hard to decide which one to see when you have limited time in the big apple.
We visited the “The American Museum of Natural History”, why? …because I love history, it’s one of the biggest museums in the world and it totally featured in the Ben Stiller movie – A Night at the Museum.
The Natural History Museum has so much to see like dinosaur bones, a woolly mammoth mummy, the largest meteorite found in the USA, an amazing view of the galaxy at the Hayden Planetarium and the Rapa Nui (Easter Island) statue otherwise known as dum-dum, which was made famous by the Night at the Museum movie. Make sure you stop by the Moon scales to see how much you would weigh on the moon. Let’s just say I think I would be VERY happy living on the moon.
You can also spend a night at the museum, yes that’s right you can sleepover! Be sure to check out the website for more details – AMNH
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Down on the Hudson at Pier 86, you will be able to discover the USS Intrepid, which for all of those history buffs out there will know is a ship that served in World War II and in the Vietnam War.
There are many different aircraft, submarines and a space shuttle that you can see and learn about how these amazing machines played a part in American history and also about the heroes who worked on board.
You could easily spend a whole day here if you are interested in this sort of thing, I was ready to go after a couple of hours but Aron was in for the long haul.
Visiting the memorial is such an important thing to do as a visitor to New York. Not only do you get to understand how New York was affected by 9/11 but you also get an insight into how the city banded together to rebuild and restore hope to so many who had suffered so much.
This was a very moving experience that allowed us to honour and pay tribute to those affected by 9/11. You will leave with a whole new appreciation, understanding and respect for New York City.
Location: World Trade Centre – 180 Greenwich Street, New York
Opening Hours: 7.30 am – 9 pm
Ready to experience the 9/11 Memorial? Visit 9/11 Memorial and Museum
One of my favourites things to do as a tourist is to visit a local market and sit back and soak up the atmosphere. Well, Chelsea Markets is the place to do this is New York, located in the trendy Meatpackers District, Chelsea Markets is known as one of the best food halls around town.
Besides offering a wide variety of delicious food you will also find fashion stores and a whole lot of New York atmosphere – enjoy!
Good to Know
Dos Caminos Mexican is only a 3-minute walk from Chelsea Markets, you must try the freshly made GUACAMOLE!
Location: Meatpacking District – 75 Ninth Avenue, New York
Opening Hours: 7 am to 9 pm Monday to Saturday & 8 am to 8 pm on Sundays
Ready to experience Chelsea Markets? Visit Chelsea Markets
Grand Central Terminal
Even if you’re not catching a train you really should stop by Grand Central Terminal. With food and shops galore there is so much to see and do.
Be sure to look up, the ceiling is as impressive as the grand staircase which you just can’t resist having your photo taken on! It’s also nice to sit back and watch everyone rushing around or stand out in the middle and feel part of the hustle and bustle with over 750,000 other visitors daily – what a place!
Where to Eat
Famous for its unbelievably delicious burgers and concrete shakes Shake Shack is a definite stop for any foodie. If you try the Shack Burger and the Peanut Butter Concrete I guarantee you will be going back the next day to reorder the exact same thing – it’s that good!
My two favourite locations are:
Theater District – it is right below the Intercontinental Times Square
Madison Square Park – this is where Shake Shack began
Not only has Magnolia Bakery been baking up delicious cakes for years but they have also starred in many famous shows like Sex in the City. The Banana pudding is one of the many amazing desserts made by Magnolia and one you can’t leave New York City without trying – get the large, you can thank me later! You can also pick up a copy of their cookbook which includes the recipe’s for their famous cupcakes, icebox pies and yes …the banana pudding!
Where to Stay in New York
Intercontinental Times Square
The Intercontinental Times Square is without a doubt my favourite hotel to stay at in New York. This is a five–star luxury property that is located close enough to Broadway and Times Square yet far enough away so the noise and bright lights won’t keep you up at night!
The hotel has luxe interiors and although this sounds strange the lobby and lifts smell delicious. You can choose to stay in various room types that come with all of the amenities you expect from a 5-star property.
Oh and yes this amazing property sits right above Shake Shack – only the best burger joint in town serving up my favourite peanut butter concretes and hamburgers – yum!
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Thoughts & opinions shared about how long should you stay in New York for are entirely my own!